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Another voice is raised up about an unsung jazz legend . . . Andy Bey at Exodus to Jazz

Another voice joins Jazz@Rochester with a review of Friday night's Andy Bey gig for the wonderful Exodus to Jazz series, written by Christopher Teal:

Unsung jazz legend Andy Bey came to Rochester’s Clarion Riverside Hotel on Friday for two sets of fresh interpretations on standards, as well as his own stirring originals. Rounding out a trio with Bey’s piano and vocals were bassist Joe Martin and drummer Vito Lesczak. I have heard Martin on record and live on several occasions with Kurt Rosenwinkel’s bands and he always plays with a focused rhythmic drive—last night being no exception. Lesczak has been playing with Bey for several years in rotation with the legendary Kenny Washington and displayed masterful restraint and in his swinging accompaniment role.

Andy Bey album coverThe late set started out with an instrumental version of the standard There is No Greater Love, with Bey’s distinctive piano playing in full effect. Bey displays great patience at the piano, unfolding his ideas with deliberate care. By eschewing traditional left hand accompaniment, he leaves ample space for group interplay. This medium tempo swinger featured plenty of smart rhythmic interaction between the whole trio and an especially spirited solo from Joe Martin.  In the next two selections, a style-shifting workout of All the Things You Are and a pensive rendition of On Second Thought (both featured on his latest album It Ain't Necessarily So, Bey displayed the full capacity of his immense vocal instrument. Able to create a huge array of colors and tones with his four-octave range, Bey belted new life into the warhorse All the Things (a tune that Bey described as being "older than salt") and created an intimately dark tone on On Second Thought. Approaching seventy years of age, Andy Bey’s lyrical interpretations percolate a mix of experience and vitality that bring to mind Jimmy Scott and Bill Withers, but without losing his own unique character.

After two originals, Pretentious, and There Are So Many Ways to Approach the Blues, Bey stepped from behind the piano to perform a vocalese rendition of A Night In Tunisia that included a stellar scat solo riddled with quotes from other bebop classics. Following this closer, Bey was summoned by applause to perform a solo encore of Little Girl Blue that provided a tender close to the set.

This final set for Bey’s trio was also the last of the season for the Exodus to Jazz series. Promoter Jose DaCosta surprised the crowd by unveiling the lineup for the Fall-Winter season of ETJ, which brings back familiar acts as well as some compelling new artists, leaving the crowd with even more to buzz about over the summer.

Christopher Teal is a second-year Masters student at Eastman School of Music in jazz drum and plays with the local band Po' Boys Brass Band, Localized Tenderness out of Spokane, WA, and the Chris Teal Trio. You can find out more about Chris at his website and the MySpace page for Localized Tenderness. We hope to have Chris write more for us while he's here in Rochester. Let us know what you think in the comments.

This post was originally published on JazzRochester.


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